The Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI) Project is a new approach to enhance the skills and expertise of faculty and staff of Philippine universities and colleges, through scholarships, training and research partnerships with top-notch research universities in California, USA, in the priority areas of information infrastructure development (IID) and health innovation and translational medicine (HITM).
Information infrastructure development refers to the technological and human components, networks, systems, and processes that contribute to the creation, flow or exchange, processing and management of electronic information (adapted from Braa et al., 2007).
Health innovation and translational medicine refers to the bench-to-bedside translation of basic scientific research to practicable diagnostic procedures and therapies with meaningful improvements to physical, mental or social health outcomes (adapted from Zerhouni, 2005).
THE PCARI PROJECT BACKGROUND AND
THE ROLE OF PHILIPPINE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES
All over the world, universities and colleges are expected to contribute to economic and human development in various ways. These universities and colleges create new knowledge and technologies to allow citizens to participate in the job market. Each institution plays an important role in making sure that individuals contribute effectively to the balanced development of society.
One of the ways by which universities and colleges can contribute to prosperity is to engage in research leading to new and improved technologies. This can be done by training scientists and researchers who will generate new knowledge.
Some countries are making significant investments to provide advanced training for their citizens by sending them abroad for graduate studies. For example, Brazil’s "Science Without Frontiers" program targets 100,000 Brazilians who will earn their masters and doctoral degrees outside their country.
Among our ASEAN neighbors, Vietnam has invested about US$50M of its annual budget to send 1,000 university and college faculty a year for their doctoral degrees abroad. This is part of the overall objective to train 10,000 Vietnamese overseas.
In some instances, developing countries have funded the activities of reputable foreign universities and colleges to set up programs in their country. For example, Rwanda provided a budget of $95-million over 10 years for Carnegie-Mellon University to open a program that will offer masters and doctoral degrees in information technology and in electrical and computer engineering.
Another strategy adopted by other Asian countries is to catch up with the more competitive economies by utilizing what is called a leapfrogging strategy. The National University of Singapore and Mahidol University in Thailand, for instance, have partnered with leading universities abroad in the areas the Asian universities aim to leapfrog in.
Compared to its neighbors, the Philippines is seriously behind in providing its universities and colleges access to high science and emerging technologies. Thus it is imperative for the Philippines to expand its pool of scientists and researchers in universities and colleges.
PHILIPPINES-US AGREEMENT ON SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION
An Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines on Scientific and Technological Cooperation was signed on 08 June 2012. This Agreement aims to strengthen scientific, technological, and institutional capabilities, broaden and expand relations between the scientific and technological communities, and promote scientific and technological cooperation in areas of mutual benefit, including information technology and the health sciences which are the two priority areas of the PCARI Project.
The Agreement requires that the two Governments encourage and facilitate the development of direct contacts and cooperation between the government agencies and universities of the two countries. This is exactly what the PCARI Project is doing.
The project is going to be implemented by two virtual institutes:
- The Institute for Information Infrastructure Development that will direct projects in information technology, energy, e-government and e-education; and
- The Institute for Health Innovation and Translational Medicine that will direct projects in health care through strategic technology, delivery and training, to improve diagnosis, treatment and health services delivery in the ten major causes of morbidity and mortality in the Philippines, such as asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis, dengue and diarrhea.
OUTSTANDING FEATURES OF THE PCARI PROJECT
The PCARI Project:
- Involves scholarship, training and research;
- Focuses on two fields: information infrastructure development (IID) and health innovation and translational medicine (HITM);
- Provides opportunities for direct collaboration between Philippine faculty-researchers and UC-based experts in order to build research capabilities and infrastructure in Philippine universities and colleges;
- Attracts the best and the brightest with full support for research, which includes modern equipment, attendance in conferences and state-of-the-art laboratories; and
- Addresses important problems of society using the best technologies, including the development of technologies close to commercialization.
BENEFITS OF THE PCARI PROJECT
- Jobs in new competitive high-value added industries and related support services in information infrastructure in support of disaster risk management and response, energy generation monitoring, e-governance, water resources management, monitoring of civil infrastructures, among others
- Affordable and efficient diagnostic kits, medical devices and inexpensive drugs and the creation of jobs to produce such to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the ten highest causes of mortality and morbidity in the Philippines, such as dengue, asthma, diabetes, tuberculosis
- Increase in the number of faculty-scientists and faculty-researchers with the capacity to generate effective technologies to benefit society
- Improved research management skills especially in research grants administration and international linkages
- World-class research institutes with state-of-the-art facilities for Information Infrastructure Development and Health Innovation and Translational Medicine